Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Rita Pickler


MOTHER-INFANT SYNCHRONY DURING INFANT FEEDING By Barbara A. Reyna, PhD A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Virginia Commonwealth University. Virginia Commonwealth University, 2010. Major Director: Rita H. Pickler, PhD Endowed Nursing Alumni Professor Department of Family and Community Health Nursing, School of Nursing Synchrony between a mother and her infant is fundamental to their developing relationship. Feeding is an essential activity that provides an opportunity for interaction between a mother and her infant and may lead to synchronous interaction. The purpose this study was to develop and test a coding system, the Maternal-Infant Synchrony Scale (MISS), for assessing synchrony of feeding interaction between a mother and her preterm infant. The secondary aims were to: (1) describe mother and preterm infant synchrony during feeding; (2) examine mother-infant synchrony during feeding over time; (3) examine the mediating effects of infant severity of illness, behavior state, birth gestation, and birth weight, and maternal depression, and maternal responsiveness and sensitivity on mother-infant synchrony; and (4) test the criterion-related validity of the synchrony scale. A descriptive, longitudinal design using data collected during an earlier study was employed; a sample dataset from 10 mother-infant dyads that completed three data collection points (30 observations total) was used. Data were also collected on maternal depression and responsiveness and sensitivity and dyadic tension and reciprocity. For this analysis, scores for infant severity illness and behavior state were computed. The Noldus Observer XT 8.0 (Noldus Information Technology b.v., 2006) was used for data review and coding. The MISS was created by determining the frequency of select behaviors and the percentage of time behaviors occurred during the feeding; changes in behaviors over the three observations periods were calculated. Mothers were attentive and focused during feedings. The influence of infant maturation on feeding behaviors was evident across observations; infant attempts at interaction (gazing at mother) were greater than the mother attempts to engage her infant. MISS scores were not significantly different over the observations, the selected mediators had no significant effect on synchrony, and the criterion validity for the MISS was not established. This study revealed behaviors that are descriptive of the interaction and can be used to develop interventions that would support the developing relationship. Use of the MISS with a larger sample size and a cohort of healthy, term newborns is needed to establish the MISS as a valid and reliable measure of synchrony.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2010

Included in

Nursing Commons